Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Road To Good Habits is Paved with Bad Intentions

We are the sadder but wiser girls. We have been down this road before and don't like the view. If you or I could have thought our way out of emotionally sucking on some pizza would have done so long time ago. Some of those bad intentions were very tasty or had a gleam in the eyes that couldn't be denied.

Some of us we require a "structured" approach to developing good habits. Otherwise we will lie, cheat and manipulate our way back to the bad side. This requires a different kind of commitment. I can’t tell you the right thing to do but I can share with you some examples that might help you get where you want to go.

A Good Habit Requires Love

Good habits require a shift in thinking. Trading a good habit for a bad one is not a punishment but a welcomed relief from doing something that is destructive to our well being.  Dogwood Mama In The Thicket understand what I am trying to say. She is trying to find her road back to better nutrition and in her words:

I am learning and praying and hoping that I will be more steady in my efforts this time, and probably slower in implementing them.

For me it is more like one day at a time for as long as it takes. That might be the rest of my life. Maybe a more realistic approach is to concentrate on a specific task for a moment, one hour at a time or for just a day. Slide into bed with the good habit just like we did with the bad habits. Perhaps we need to treat a good habit like a lover. A disciplined lover. As in disciple or any other associations that might occur to you.

Practiced, practice and more practice. You heard this before. It takes 21 days to lock in a good habit. I liked the approach by Darmaris Piece at I Am Thankful, 21 Days to Form A Good Habit.  She does give you six helpful steps but Darmaris also encourages you to be thankful and to add positive affirmations to what you want to do. If 21 days is too much then you might be interested in 3 Easy Steps to Break Bad Habits from WebMD.

Mental Motivation

We need motivation. This will shock a few of you but you can't find your specific motivation in a book or a blog. It has to come from inside you.  But bloggers and others can inspire you and coach you along the way. Dara Chadwick at Fit In Real Life points out that the work may not be just external. You might have to do positive internal work as well.

I'm notorious for not being able to take a compliment and I've started to see how negative a habit that can be. When someone tells me I look great and I say, "No, I don't" or some other self-deprecating remark, it diminishes not only me, but the person giving the compliment.

I can’t tell you the number of blog post written by women who are vicious with themselves. Stop doing that! It sets you up for failure and you are back on that road of too much food, coffin nails or another situation that set you up for failure and self loathing. It is about the love baby. Nothing but love.

Wanted to lose 5 pounds in a week and you only lost 1.5 pounds? Give yourself a pat on the back for the 1.5 pounds and say these exact words, “I’m doing ok. Next time I’m going to do better.”  I' mean it. No hate talk, no self-bashing and, most of all no comparisons, to any person living or dead that lost more weight than you did last week.

Clueless Baby at Just An Ordinary Life takes a look at her specific bad habits, nail biting, procrastination and fidgeting and states what works for her. You see, if you don't have a vested reason (other than your doctor telling you to quit it or die) then there is nothing to keep you from woofing down a cheeseburger and a shake.

You motivation has got to stronger than your desire. Sometimes those rascals are pulling on you with equal force. This leads to the second component.

Clearly Stated Goals

The clearly stated goal helps to reinforces the good habit. What do you want to do? Do you want $1,000 in savings by the summer? Travel?  Fitting into a size 14 dress? What would it take to make that happen and what is the bad habit blocking you from what you want?

If you keep buying the morning Danish bun you are not gonna have $1,000 in savings or wear a size 14 dress.  For those of use that need reverse psychology, especially when it comes to money, you can read Jennifer Derrick’s post on 21 Days to A Negative Money Habit.

ElizaLizzy at The Evolution of Me has three specific things she wants to do every day:

I am going to start anew tomorrow and try my hardest to meet three simple little goals. #1 - Bring Breakfast - that is already in my work bag - so I have no excuses #2 - take a 30 minute walk (or 2 15-minute walks or 3 10-minute walks). and #3 - track all calories on Sparkpeople tomorrow.

For some of us it is not just that we want to change but we have a medical condition that requires management. For example, Karen at Overcoming Asthma writes about bad habits for those that suffer Asthma. Reading the post she is also speaking to the rest of us when it comes to the conscious and unconscious triggers that invoke habits that are harmful and yet we do them anyway.

One More Thing

There will be mistakes, errors in judgment (for me if chocolate is in the area there will be many errors in judgment) and well, we might get frustrated about following a set of guidelines. That is okay. We are allowed to mess up. We are human beings. It isn’t going to be easy. Sometimes you will do the right things and it will not seem to work.

Amberlyn from Confessions of 2 Fat Girls had a set back but she says:

But I don't want to quit. I've come some far, for me, and worked to hard to give it up on a few bad days. Tell me to keep going. Tell me that all this hard work is worth it. Tell me that we have good weeks and bad weeks.

Yes, Amberlyn we do have good weeks, bad weeks and some weeks should be wiped off the calendar. The next day however we open our eyes, affirm the positive and get on with the business of creating our life on own terms. It is worth it.

Other Resources:

Conscious divas know that splendor does not come without pre-attached gunk that must be dealt with. Fortunately Smooth Diva J is looking out for you. You can train your inner diva to break bad habits.

Over at Psych Central Dr. Grohol ask How Long Does Change Take?  According to him, it takes at least six months.

For those with bad money habits and fears you should visit The Consumerist (Now owned by Consumer Union, the company that publishes Consumer Reports) and read 9 Good Habits for a Deep Recession.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer, where I am a Contributing Editor.

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